GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A busy Gulfport soup kitchen marked a milestone Tuesday. Feed My Sheep served its one-millionth meal since re-opening in 2009.
Ken Warner was the lucky recipient of that meal, and said he never expected all the attention that came with it. Like so many others in need, he calls the Gulfport soup kitchen a true blessing.
It started as a typical Tuesday at Feed My Sheep. Shortly before noon, the dining hall is crowded, as volunteers prepared to serve. Such crowds are not at all unusual.
"There's more of a need now than ever before. We see more people that come in with new faces. New people come in every day," said soup kitchen manager, Wayne Elias.
"Hey, how you doin today?" asked five year volunteer, Toni Adams, as she greeted another lunch patrol. She said serving those in need blesses her heart.
Adams is quick with a smile and friendly greeting.
"Means a lot to me. They do a good job here with charity. And they help you anyway they can," she said, between dishing out plates of gumbo.
Those who receive them are grateful.
"All these nice people get to eat. There's no reason why anyone should go hungry in this world. Cause this is the place to go," said diner Taylor Luttrell.
Feed My Sheep serves hundreds each day. On this special occasion, they are looking for diner number 146. Ken Warner, who until just recently was living in the woods, was the lucky one.
"This gentleman here is the one millionth meal since we re-opened in 2009," said Feed My Sheep Board Chairman Ted Riemann, as he presented the surprised Warner with gifts, including a $300 gift card from WalMart.
"Feed My Sheep means just a blessing. Food and energy each day. Just to get me out there just to live. To live every day. And it's a blessing that we have Feed My Sheep," said Warner.
They'll be back at it tomorrow and the next day; as long as there is need, and generous donations to meet that need.
"Come to Feed My Sheep. And we'll give you a good meal. And we'll listen to you," said Toni Adams.
"This place is a wonderful place," said manager Elias, "A blessing from God."